Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) Premier League play-offs will finally tip off this weekend with the best of three quarterfinals at the Africa Nazarene University Grounds away from its traditional Nyayo Stadium Gymnasium venue which is currently undergoing renovation.
KBF had challenge finding a suitable venue following the closure of the Nyayo Stadium a move that has also occasioned delay in the start of the play-offs with fears of the season extending into next year.
Former champions Ulinzi Warriors have been drawn against Nairobi City Thunder at the quarter-finals and will battle it out in Game One and Two this weekend.
Straight wins for either of the two sides will see them through to the semi-finals on a 2-0 aggregate and Game Three forfeited since its outcome will be inconsequential.
Warriors and Thunder are familiar nemesis having met at the semi-finals last year with the soldiers emerging the winners to proceed to the finals while the self-sponsored side was forced to contend with position four.
Buoyed by a strong playing unit Ulinzi coach William Balozi is a confident man ahead of the showdown even as they hope to reclaim the title from reigning champions Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
“Thunder is a good team worth reckoning with the threat they portend to our quest to lift the title but am optimistic we have what it takes to emerge winners and qualify to the next stage,” he said.
Griffins Ligare’s fitness and Abel Nson form will be heavily relied upon by Thunder after the duo proved instrumental during the regular season campaign while Balozi is likely to front his top talisman Eric Mutoro besides Ancet Wafula, William Ochieng and Bernard Mufutu.
Another blockbuster of the weekend in the quarterfinals will pit United States International University of Africa (USIU-Africa) Tigers against fellow students Strathmore Blades in a tricky encounter to predict its outcome. Blades have proved a better side for this season that Tigers but both sides have been impressive over the years at the play-offs.
Under the tutelage of coach Tony Ochieng, Blades are keen to lift their maiden Premier League title even though he recognises the tall task that awaits his junior squad. Both Blades and Tigers were edged out at the quarterfinals stage last year.
In the only women Premier League play-off encounter, Zetech University Sparks will face off Co-operative Bank Kingdom Queens in Game 1 and 2. Other teams will wait until Equity Bank and KPA returns from the Africa Women Champions Cup that is ongoing in Luanda Angola where the two sides represented Zone Five.